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Jim Kim: The Crony Network

Jim Kim1.JPGHis public reputation can’t be beat: a Partners in Health humanitarian; a WHO department head; former Dartmouth President; President of the World Bank. All that luster, but when he searches about for a public platform to keep up his profile in the academic eye, all he can score is this year’s Commencement speaker at Northeastern University in Boston.

Not a bad school, but it ain’t Harvard — where Kim went to med school, and was on the medical school faculty for sixteen years. Nor even Brown, from where he graduated in 1982. You see, people on the inside at significant schools know what kind of President Kim was, and wasn’t, at the College. They have friends on the Dartmouth faculty, and whispered contempt has a way of travelling. As for the real insiders at Harvard, well, they have been clued into Mr. Optics for a much longer time than people in Hanover.

So how did Kim get the Northeastern gig? That’s not hard. His long-time Boston crony and his number two man at Dartmouth, Stephen Kadish, who arrived in Hanover with Kim and left at the same time, is now the Senior Vice Pres­i­dent and Chief Oper­ating Officer at Northeastern. I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine.

The third member of the Kim triumvirate was Kadish’s wife, Linda Snyder. Her time as vice-president for campus planning and facilities at the College still causes people in the local building trades to wince. Just think of the cost of the Hanover Inn (where this week, the kitchen is shut down so that new, correctly sized supply and exhaust fans can be installed, in place of the mis-specified ones put in last year).

Snyder left town with Kadish and Kim. She is now vice president for operations at Tufts University. Anyone want to guess where Jim Kim will be speaking at Commencement in 2014?

Addendum: In exchange for his Northeastern speech, Kim will receive an honorary degree to go with the one that he and the invisible Mrs. Kim received last year from the College. At Dartmouth’s Commencement in 2012, the Kims’ degrees were granted on the fly: the event had not been announced in the Commencement program. That was a prudent move. Kim was insulted once that day from the podium, and most of the faculty stayed in their seats after his speech. Given half a chance to prepare, the graduating class might have booed Kim en masse — not a good career-builder for our endlessly ambitious former leader.

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